December 1, 2012 (JUBA) – South Sudan’s post-independence 2nd Governors’ Forum concluded its five-day deliberations on Friday with the leaders calling on the government to commit 10% of the overall annual budget to agriculture in order to achieve food security in the nation by 2014.
The country is still dependent on imports of food commodities from the neighbouring countries in order to feed its people.
Presentations made by international experts during the governors’ forum has indicated that the country imported $44.5 billion worth of food items from the neighbouring countries from 2010 alone while it exports none, leaving it as a consuming nation.
President Salva Kiir on Monday during the opening of the forum revealed that 48% of his country’s population is food insecure.
The government used to allocate only 4% of budget to the agriculture for the last several years. Security always took the chunk of the revenues in the country which only depended on oil revenues by 98% of its budget.
This year’s governors’ forum focused on food security with agriculture, livestock and fisheries as the core issues for deliberations and resolutions.
In his closing remarks on Friday, Vice-President Riek Machar, who chaired the forum during the five-day of deliberations, told the national ministers and governors that achieving food security could be realized if the government was seriously committed.
Machar reminded the senior officials that the austerity measures might continue even if the oil restarted to flow, adding that tough measures would be taken to strictly regulate the use of revenues and enhance accountability and transparency across the nation.
All contracts signed since 2005 will be reviewed by the government, he added, to pin down corrupt practices.
Corruption has been a disease in the government for the last seven years. President Kiir has always declared zero tolerance policy against the menace, but the malpractice seems to be kicking back.
South Sudan is classified as one of the poorest countries in the world despite its great potentials and has continued to maintain some of the worst indicators of countries that are backward.
For instance, 73% of men and 84% of women are illiterate; 4.7 million of its 8 million populations are food insecure; 50% of its civil servants are estimated to lack the appropriate qualifications and 87% of the population lack access to basic health care.
A 15 year-old girl has a higher chance of dying in childbirth than finishing school while the country has the highest maternal mortality rate in the world with 2,054 per 100,000 live births.